WHEATON — Illinois Wesleyan's chance for a third straight victory over Wheaton got off to a good start Saturday night when the Titans jumped ahead on Hamid Bullie's 6-yard touchdown run in the first quarter at McCully Stadium.
Once the second quarter rolled around, the Thunder took control.
TJ Williams gained 166 yards on 29 carries and scored two touchdowns as No. 17-ranked Wheaton downed No. 18 IWU, 24-10, in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin opener.
IWU fell to 0-2 overall ahead of next Saturday's 1 p.m. home opener against Augustana (1-1) at Tucci Stadium.
The Titans gained only 151 yards of total offense with 10 first downs compared to Wheaton's 413 yards and 18 first downs.
"We didn't keep our defense off the field. Offensively we had too many three-and-outs and put them (the defense) out there in bad situations," said IWU coach Norm Eash. "We probably didn't win the line of scrimmage and got beat up front a little bit.
"We weren't on the field very much, and that's on our offense. We have a lot of confidence in our offense, but we didn't get the job done against Wheaton."
Wheaton (2-0) cut IWU's lead to 7-3 on Griffin Bowes' 26-yard field goal late in the first quarter. Williams' 9-yard TD run gave the Thunder a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter.
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Williams caught an 18-yard swing pass from Spencer Peterson for his second TD to push Wheaton's lead to 17-7 before IWU freshman Jonathan Rukujzo nailed a 34-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 17-10.
Bowes attempted a 41-yard field goal late in the first half, but it hit the left upright.
A steady rain came at halftime. IWU couldn't move on its first two possessions of the third quarter before Wheaton extended the margin to 24-10 as Peterson scored on a 9-yard run with 1:41 left.
Bowes missed another field goal attempt in the fourth quarter, but the Titans never could mount a serious scoring threat in the second half.
"We started out strong and kind of faded. Wheaton is a good football team and they played hard," said Eash. "We didn't match the intensity they had and then had to play catch-up. We didn't control the field positon very well. I felt they were always playing on our side. It made a difference."
IWU quarterback Brandon Bauer went 13 of 26 for 112 yards, while Bullie gained 32 yards on 16 carries.
"Our backs are against the wall a little bit. We're being challenged right now," said Eash. "We knew we had a tough road schedule. The first two games were really tough. Last week we had a heartbreaker in double overtime (a 33-27 loss at Wisconsin-La Crosse) and this week we went on the road and Wheaton had two weeks to prepare for us."